Her Body, herself
(2017) color video with sound
In her essay “Her Body, Himself”, Carol J. Clover writes about the Final Girl, a character archetype in slasher films. Inevitably female, she epitomizes sweetness and helplessness, at first glance. She is desired by both villain and audience. She witnesses and endures sadistic acts of violence and psychological trauma inflicted by the killer. Clover writes, “[She] perceives the full extent of the preceding horror and her own peril: who is chased, cornered, wounded; whom we see scream, stagger, fall, rise, and scream again. She is abject terror personified.” The Final Girl is resilient, fights back, and eventually escapes. Sometimes she kills the killer herself: she is the only survivor.
“I’m into survival.”
The killer embodies a questionable sense of masculinity. A body masked, rarely seen, at first lurking in the shadows. Sometimes his true identity
is revealed later, sometimes “he” is a woman. Just as the killer is not fully masculine, the Final Girl is not fully feminine–not, in any case, feminine in the traditional sense. “Slasher films present us a world which male and female are at desperate odds but in which, at the same time, masculinity and femininity are more states of mind than body.” (Clover, 188)
♪ What haaave I got, that makes youu waaant to [kill] looove-me?
Is it my booody? Someone I might be? Or somethin’ inside me? ♪
1. Excerpt from Is It My Body?, press release. 2017
2. Clover, Carol J. “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film.” Representations, no. 20, 1987, pp. 187–228.
Originally published in Men, Women, and Chainsaw: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, Princeton University Press, 1992